Thursday, April 29, 2010


i am in love.

...with a new blog i discovered when i was searching for a new and amazing brownie recipe. i not only found a new and amazing brownie recipe, but i found a food blog i can obsess over for the rest of my life.

smitten kitchen is an all-around beautiful blog. the layout is clean and attractive; the written content is dry (not dry boring, dry in a good way), smart, humorous; the photos are beautifully lit, gorgeous, and make me awestruck with indecisiveness as to which recipe to start with (there are thousands and i want to make them all); and the recipes, the recipes are well categorized and well written. and like i said, i can't decide which recipe to try first. homemade pop tarts? chocolate souffle cupcakes with mint cream? oh the agony...

(photo by smitten kitchen)

these oatmeal, chocolate chip and pecan cookies, for instance, are giving me a sudden urge to start baking cookies. (this may sound strange coming from someone who loves to bake, but i find cookie baking tiresome... who wants to spend the time doling out cookie clumps when with brownies you can pour the whole damn thing in the pan and be done with it?)

smitten kitchen is written and photographed out of a tiny kitchen in new york by a woman named deb. there is an odd correlation between new york, great photography, and foodie blogs. weird. i used to wonder what the deal was about new york that everyone would always gush about. over the past couple years, my curiosity has been slowly and subtly inching new york higher and higher on my extensive list of places to travel to.

p.s. the new and amazing brownie recipe i found was amazing and i can't wait to make them again. smitten kitchen calls them 'best cocoa brownies' and i have to agree with her.

here are a couple of (my) photos of said deliciousness:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

an appeal to stop making pancake-mix pancakes

i implore you (the world) to stop using pancake mixes, especially the ones with sketchy ingredients (like bleached flour, corn syrup solids, defatted soy flour, dextrose, carrageenan...). making pancakes from scratch is actually as easy as from a mix. and tastes better. and it comes with a sense of accomplishment and pride. bonus.

pancakes (even when not made from a "pancake mix") are quite easy to whip up when you are hungry. be it for breakfast, brunch, or that late night snack when you are craving sugar.

another reason not to make pancake-mix pancakes:

... if you make your own pancakes, you won't run the risk of salmonella poisoning either.

but here is a real pancake recipe: (recipe adapted from joy of baking)

1 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 T. sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c. milk
2 T. butter, melted

sift/whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium to large sized bowl. in a separate bowl, whisk the egg, milk and butter together. (if the butter is still warm/hot from melting, beat the egg & milk first so you don't cook the egg at all). pour the wet bowl into the dry bowl and fold/stir it together until just mixed. lumps are okay, but dry flour bits are not. if you are feeling creative, this is when you can mix in chocolate chips or blueberries. let the batter sit a couple minutes while you heat up the pan or griddle to medium or medium-high heat. once hot enough (water will splatter or sizzle), brush the pan with butter. scoop out your pancake batter in 1/4 cup increments onto pan. once the edges are dryish looking (bottom will be brown) and the top is bubbly, flip your pancake over and cook until its golden brown. if your pancake completely falls apart in the flipping process and your flipper is covered in smushed batter, then you know its not ready to be flipped.

serve with whatever you like to eat on pancakes. i like peanut butter and maple syrup. or butter and syrup. what do you like to eat on pancakes? i wish i was more creative with my pancake toppings, but nothing beats a bit of moist, sugary pancake for my palate.

one of my go-to sites for baking recipes is the joy of baking. i haven't tried too many of their recipes, but i always* use their pumpkin pie filling recipe, and i always* use their pancakes recipe. check it out if you get that urge to bake something and you just don't know what...

*99.9% of the time

Saturday, April 24, 2010

saturday: meringues and other healthy eating habits

its been a HEALTHY eating day for me today. breakfast consisted of toast with peanut butter, a chocolate croissant, and 2 americanos. lunch was decent enough, i had toast with eggs & other rich toppings, like mayo, avocados, cheese... but then i decided to use up the egg whites in my fridge that were leftover from the egg yolks i used in wednesday's eggs benedict. i didn't want them to go to waste, so i decided the best thing to do would be to beat those egg whites to death with about a pound of sugar. i made meringues for the first time ever.

back to my healthy food habits. after snacking on meringues, accompanied by decaf coffee to offset the sweetness, came dinner. which consisted of bean dip and a bag of rice chips. and guess what i had for dessert? yup. meringues. and now it is midnight and i am getting my usual late night pangs of hunger.

i used a recipe from donna hay's cookbook flavours - i think i am in love with donna hay's cookbooks, specifically the photography in her cookbooks. if you ever want to see me drool, the next best thing to putting a plate of delicious food in front of me is to put a donna hay cookbook in my hands. or a jamie oliver cookbook. they both have amazing photographers.

because this was my first time baking meringues, i can't really rate the recipe, or compare it with anything else i've ever tried. it seemed a bit more complicated than it could have been though. i had another recipe that just called for egg whites and castor sugar. simple.

however, this recipe called for:
egg whites (4)
castor sugar - i finely ground my cane sugar into a powder (1 & 1/4 cup)
sifted cornstarch - i used tapioca starch (1 Tablespoon)
vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
vinegar (1 teaspoon)
seeds from vanilla bean

pre-heat oven to somewhere between 200 F and 250 F. beat egg whites until 'soft peaks' form. you can tell that peaks are forming when you turn off your beater and lift it up, the egg whites will form a small mountain 'peak.' slowly incorporate the sugar (a little bit at a time) until the batter is smooth, and the peaks are no longer 'soft' but 'stiff.' now the recipe said to fold in the rest of the ingredients, but my batter was way too runny still so i beat the heck out of it until the batter became stiffer, and when i rubbed a bit of batter between my fingers, it was sticky and smooth (you shouldn't be able to feel the grains of sugar). dump the batter into a piping bag, pipe shapes onto a parchment lined pan (make sure they are all similar sizes). the baking time is quite long, because it requires low heat (you want them to dry out, but not to burn), so try to get as many on to your baking sheets as possible and stick 2 sheets in the oven at once. just make sure to rotate them a bit during baking. bake for somewhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour. i'm sorry i'm so vague on these instructions - like i said, its my first meringue experience. i kept changing the baking temperature and adding more time to the timer. they were too chewy when they first came out so i just stuck them in for more time. apparently its not a good idea to bake these on a rainy day. it was raining today. that's probably why it took so long. stupid moisture.

i just re-read that last paragraph, and i came to this conclusion: if you want to bake meringues, go find a recipe somewhere else and follow it and use your instincts. i can't give great advice after just making them once and failing to keep track of times and temperatures.

but what i can do.... is show you some more photos! yay photos! i think all that sugar is still coursing through my system.

i have to say, baking is not for the weak. it often requires persistence. i'm quite glad i decided to use my electric beater instead of using my old fashioned hand-held egg beater, because i beat that batter excessively and i still don't think the peaks were as stiff as they should have been.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


the obligatory daily photo of my awesome singaporean kopi mug:

my dinner:

toast with mayo, canned salmon, salt & pepper.
grilled zucchini amazingness
steamed kailan
apple juice

i don't know what made me decide to grill zucchini tonight, but i think i discovered something amazing. i fried them in butter with salt, pepper, and thyme (on both sides). once i flipped them, i added crumbled bits of pre-cooked bacon and a slice of gouda cheese. and waited for the cheese to melt. even without the bacon they would have been amazing. 

oh yes, and happy earth day! i decided to go for a walk today instead of driving my non-existent car. go me!

p.s. i am not a fan of the newish blogspot post editor. it won't let me resize my images to a specific size. i can only do small, medium, or large. LAME. it also won't let me upload more than one photo at a time. oh the madness...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

uncle fatih's

okay, i know uncle fatih's pizza doesn't really need any more advertising, they have line-ups 24/7. and i am not even a huge fast-food-pizza-eating-type of person. but i do occasionally indulge in greasy pizza goodness once in a while, and i'm on a tight budget lately, so cheap pizza makes sense when i'm out.

oh yeah, and also (you can tell i feel shameful for my pizza indulgence when i have to make a million excuses), sherri hadn't eaten pizza from uncle fatih's before, so we had to go. so there.

my brother would recommend the beef-and-blue-cheese pizza here - its amazing, but its super rich and i already had eggs benedict this morning, so i opted for the slightly less rich slices of olive-and-pesto and the just-cheese.

so for those of you who haven't tried this joint but would like to, it is conveniently located on broadway just west of commercial. (and another location i just noticed, thank you google, is on denman, just off davie st.) they are open from 10:30am until 1 on sundays, til 2 every other day, til 3 fridays and saturdays.


this is sherri. she came over today.

we made eggs benedict. complete with homemade hollandaise sauce. (link to recipe way, way, way below. after all my irrelevant talk and tempting photos, THEN you can see the recipe you are dying to try out because of how time-consuming it is.)

as much as i love bennys, i don't think i can eat another one for another couple months. those babies are rich. eggs, butter, bacon, avocado, cheese, eggs... that's at least 3 different kinds of fats. i love fat, and i love rich - don't get me wrong - i just like to spread out the fatty richness a little bit. (coming from the person who went back to the french cafe 3 days in a row for creme brulee)

i got the recipe for the hollandaise sauce here. this site does a great job of explaining the process. there are many different versions and ways of making this thick, creamy, eggy, buttery goodness. i liked this recipe. today it turned out a little bit too sour (i added extra lemon juice - stick to the recipe people), but otherwise great. i think a good thing to keep in mind is to keep it low (the heat - if its too hot, you will get scrambled eggs), and keep it active (constantly stirring or whipping).

(beautiful spring tulips my sister got from a friend)

Monday, April 19, 2010


breakfast this morning: gala apple, toast with peanut butter & brown sugar, bali coffee with sweetened condensed milk. ran out of eggs and was too lazy to go to the store today, so tomorrow's breakfast will probably look quite similar.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

k-meals: french food bliss in jogjakarta (aka 3 days of creme brulee)

traveling to indonesia, i expected to eat my share (and more) of amazing indonesian food. the city of jogjakarta let me down in that way. gorgeous city as it is, i enjoyed very little of their traditional food. instead, i happened upon french food, and a creme brulee that lured me back 3 days in a row.

but this story of love & creme brulee has a bittersweet aspect to it. the day my sister and i randomly found this restaurant, i took some beautiful photos, and i was excited about them (i'm a modest person, excitement about my own work that i admit to publicly doesn't come often). and then i accidentally deleted all of them. its kind of pathetic to admit to, but my grief was such that you would have thought i had gone through a painful loss.

but i got over it, and i dragged my sister back so i could take more photos (and eat more creme brulee and drink more coffee) i will briefly divulge my thoughts on the restaurant, and then i will let the photos below do the rest of the talking.

from what the very friendly servers at k-meals told me, i think this restaurant has only been open for a few months. there are a few owners, but one of the owners is also the head chef there. the kitchen is visible and the friendly french chef will greet you (& welcome you back) and if there's a lull in the kitchen later, he comes by your table to ask about your meal.

you can tell that these people love their food - each plate is beautifully presented. even the simple dessert of ice cream is garnished in a way that makes it look like a complicated, high-class dessert. you can find out a bit more about k-meals on their website.

the menu is in french & english. they seem to have a special of the day that wasn't on the menu, but otherwise they specialise in wood-fired pizza (tasty). the drinks we had (orange juice and some weird mint & green tea creamy concoction) were so-so, but the coffee was quite delicious. but if you do go, make sure you specify that you want kopi java. the second day i ordered the same coffee from the menu, but i got an americano, and although it was lovely, the java coffee is just so much better. and if you're in java, drink coffee from java for goodness sake.

but the best part of k-meals is their desserts. the creme brulee uses vanilla beans from java, so you know its good, fresh stuff. the top layer of sugar is thick & crusty & yummy and the inside is creamy but not too sweet. i came back for this stuff 3 times, ok? it was good. the $3 canadian i paid for it didn't hurt either. the other dessert i tried was the kappuccino mousse "chocolate mousse in a cappuccino way" :) it was perfect. twice.